The Russia-EU cooperation in the military field is one of significant constituents within the developing relations along the Road Map for the Common Space of External Security.
For the first time the issue of bilateral dialog in the areas of security and crisis management was raised during the Russia-EU Summit in Paris in October 2000. As a result, the "Joint Declaration on strengthening dialogue and cooperation on political and security matters in Europe" was adopted.
The Declaration outlined the following mutual objectives:
- to institute consultations on security and defense matters at an appropriate level and in an appropriate format
- to develop strategic dialogue, particularly in regard to security issues having implications for the Russian Federation and the European Union
- to extend the scope of regular consultations at expert level on the issues of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation
- to promote cooperation in crisis management area
As a next step, in May 2002, in a Joint Statement at the Russia-EU Summit in Moscow the sides emphasized the following topics for future regular discussions:
- conflict prevention
- use of Russian strategic airlift capabilities by the European Union
Starting in 2006, the level of cooperation in the military area between the Russian Federation and the European Union has been scaling up. The initiative belongs to the Austrian Presidency that has promoted the idea of enhancing the dialog with the Russian Federation along the previously agreed lines.
Since then, meetings between the Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the Russian Armed Forces and the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee have been taking place regularly. In May 2007, the Russian CGS Army General Baluevsky delivered a speech to the Military Committee at the level of Chiefs of General (Defence) Staff of the European Union Member states.
In June 2007, the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, Mr. Serdyukov, during his visit to Brussels held talks with the European Union High Representative, Mr. J.Solana, where the intentions of both sides to further develop the cooperation in the military field was confirmed.
In addition to that, there were three rounds of consultations between experts from the Russian Ministry of Defence and from the EU Council Secretariat. At the meetings on 9 February and on 27 September 2006 the sides mainly discussed the issues related to crisis management in an attempt to work out a common approach. There, the Russian Federation for the first time has issued a proposed timetable for Russia-EU joint events in the military area for the period of 2006-2007.
There is a continuous participation (at a frequency of twice per year) of Russian representatives at ESDP Orientation Courses conducted by the European Defence College.
The EU Council Secretariat is permanently informing the Russian Federation about the strategic level staff exercises taking place two times per year ("MILEX" and "CRISMEX"). Joint briefings concerning the aims, goals and achievements have been taking place at different stages of these exercises.
In second half of 2009, there was the first visit of the Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical cooperation of the Russian Federation, Mr.Dmitriev to the European Defence Agency. It was agreed to study the possibilities of establishing "experts level" working groups to discuss the issues of mutual interest in the areas of modernization and service of military hardware as well as in research and technology.
The participation of the Russian contingent in the EU crisis management operation in Chad/CAR has become a significant step in the Russia-EU cooperation. The decision to send a Russian Aviation Group (RAG) to EUFOR Chad/CAR was taken by the President of the Russian Federation in January 2008. In accordance with the Presidential Decree, 120 military personnel and four MI-8 transport helicopters took part in the European Union's peacekeeping effort from January 5 to March 15, 2009.
The contribution of RAG into the success of the EU operation has been assessed as significant. High professional skills, capabilities and readiness of Russian military personnel to conduct a mission in a harsh environment have been distinguished by operation's Commander.
In December 2009, the lessons learned exercise from RAG participation in EUFOR Chad/CAR was conducted in Brussels with participation of representatives from Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the EU Council Secretariat, the European Commission and the European Union Military Staff.
The coordination of activities in fighting piracy along the coast of Somali is another example of a successful practical Russia-EU interaction in crisis management. It started from the very beginning of EU Operation "Atalanta" (December 2008) and is being developed vigorously. The Russian Federation and the European Union have established the procedures for a multi-level exchange of information, an immediate assistance in terms of emergency, a close tactical coordination at sea. Two rounds of consultations have been conducted in Brussels and Moscow.
The Russia-EU cooperation in the Gulf of Aden constitutes two parallel closely coordinated Navy operations, that allows both sides to use available assets with better efficiency and success.
In January 2010, there was the first meeting of the Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Army General N.Makarov and the Chairman of EU Military Committee General H.Syren where the agreement was achieved to continue further developing the Russia-EU cooperation in the military field.